CMXtraneous: CSS

Right on the edge of useful

Usability and Standards - Who Cares?

Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 8:49:29 AM by Stephanie


So you've made the leap and you're now separating form from function. You're using XHTML and CSS and designing to web standards. All your pages validate and you've got the buttons to prove it. Who cares?

Not your prospective client. The quickest way to watch a new client's eyes glaze over is to launch into a diatribe about properly coded pages, usability, navigation and web standards. They really don't care. What they want to know is, "Will my site make money? Will it bring in more customers? How much will it cost me to develop and maintain?"

It's really no different than the way a surfer looks at the websites you create. When they hit the home page, they immediately want to know, "Where am I? What's in it for me? How can you solve my problems? What's the quickest way to the information or product I'm searching for? Can I buy it?" Anything you do to slow them down in meeting these needs is another possibility they'll leave your site and move on to one that makes it easier on them. It's a combination of the avoidance of pain/difficulty and the instant society we live in. Flash intro pages on business sites, just for the site of something cool that moves, leave the user another click farther from their goal.

When discussing a new site with a prospect, instead of trying to educate them about web standards, usability and accessibility, why not simply tell them what's in it for them?

  • Smaller page size that decreases their bandwidth, thus saving them money on their monthly hosting charges
  • Pages with consistent navigation so that surfers never get lost
  • Pages that by nature are easier for search engines to crawl with the ability to put the more important text (full of keywords) toward the top portion of each page
  • Pages that don't lock anyone out because of the browser they choose to surf with or their method of surfing (keyboard, screenreader, etc)
  • Pages that are very quick to edit, even changing the entire look site-wide, thus saving time and money on site maintenance

You get the picture. The above list is based on the benefits of using web standards and creating a semantically correct, more accessible site. But why confuse them with lingo that only people in the business care about? Show them the benefits, especially the ways they'll save money, and you're that much closer to landing that account for your company.

Category tags: Accessibility, CSS, Designing for the Web, Dreamweaver

A Valentine JumpStart: Venice

Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 8:31:31 AM by Sheri German

Sheri German

Forget chocolates! Who needs the calories? Your web pages don't need them either, and you can reduce their weight by using the newest CMX JumpStart: Venice. In the tradition of including unique features in every JumpStart, we've packed this valid XHTML and CSS 2.1 styled, WAI and 508 compliant Dreamweaver template with lots of goodies for a special Valentine's Day treat.

I love the romantic, rounded corners that are featured in both the three-column home page and the two-column form page. I also appreciate how the equal-height for the columns is achieved through faux column technique.

Sure, it's great to have templates as starting points for my clients' sites, but the aspect of JumpStarts that has really been equally valuable to me as a teacher (and forever a student!) is their educational opportunities. There is so much to learn in the eleven included tutorials and extensively commented style sheet.

A new feature in Venice is how its source PNG is organized by new CMX partner Linda Rathgeber, the author of Playing with Fire among other books, according to Fireworks best practices. I've learned to use one file to organize multiple layouts that use shared assets.

When my Valentine's flowers are wilted by the end of the week, or see an early demise at the paws of my nibbling cats, I'll still remember Valentine's Day 2005 every time I use JumpStart Venice.

Category tags: CSS, Dreamweaver